CNN's Brian Stelter, who frequently warns about the dangers of "disinformation" and accuses others of circulating it, was called out by a college freshman during a recent liberal conference at the University of Chicago for his network's long history of pushing false or misleading stories. 

"With mainstream corporate journalists becoming little more than apologists and cheerleaders for the regime, is it time to finally declare that the canon of journalistic ethics is dead or no longer operative?" Christopher Phillips asked the "Reliable Sources" host. The college student also asked why "mistakes" by CNN all tend to favor Democrats and work against Republicans. 

Stelter didn't address the substance of the questions asked by the student. Instead, he called claims of liberal bias a "popular right-wing talking point." CNN sounds the alarm about the dangers of disinformation, but has also been a purveyor of disinformation themselves.  


CNN host Brian Stelter

CNN "Reliable Sources" host Brian Stelter speaks on the "Trust, Truth and the Future of Journalism" panel at the Media Literacy Week Kick-off event, Nov. 6, 2017. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly)

Russia collusion 

CNN pundits, reporters and anchors alike promoted the since-debunked narrative that then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia ahead of the 2016 election.  

In segment after segment, CNN personalities claimed they saw "the walls closing in" on Trump until Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 2019 report found there was no collusion. Before the left’s once-favorite narrative was debunked, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper said Trump was "lashing out" because "the walls are closing in" when discussing a series of tweets Trump sent that were critical of Mueller. 

"He’s desperate. He’s obviously flailing around because he knows—he feels the walls closing in," Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe echoed to then-CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.  

The liberal network also put the also-discredited Steele dossier at the forefront in their coverage after it reported that then-President-elect Donald Trump was officially briefed on what came to be known as the Steele dossier.  

CNN talking heads made it a habit to claim the dossier was not discredited or disproven throughout their coverage in 2017 and 2018. Anchor and ex-Obama official Jim Sciutto relentlessly defended the dossier, repeatedly saying it was "corroborated" and at one point calling it "not bogus." 

The dossier provided the roadmap for the liberal media to paint the former president as compromised by the Kremlin and even a possible sexual deviant. However, Special Counsel John Durham indicted Russian national Igor Danchenko, who is believed to be the sub-source for former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who compiled the dossier last year. The narrative pertaining the dossier fell completely apart when Danchenko was charged with making false statements to the FBI.  

Hunter Biden laptop

CNN spent months downplaying and dismissing the relevancy of Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop, which has since been confirmed as authentic by the Washington Post and New York Times.  

The network refused to report on the laptop and was caught spiking the story in an editorial meeting that was recorded and published by Project Veritas. Once CNN decided to mention the laptop, its hosts and pundits often chalked it up as "Russian disinformation."

CNN’s "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" was particularly egregious on Oct. 16, 2020 when Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., joined the program to discuss the New York Post’s reporting about Hunter Biden’s questionable, overseas business dealings.  

Hunter Biden laptop

The Washington Post confirmed the authenticity of Hunter Biden's infamous laptop in March. (Randy Holmes via Getty Images)


"Serious questions tonight about whether the Russians are using Rudy Giuliani to interfere in the U.S. presidential election … There are fears that what Giuliani is now pushing here in the United States could actually be part of Russia's latest and very massive disinformation campaign in the U.S. presidential election," Blitzer asserted. 

CNN senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt reported about how the FBI was investigating whether Hunter Biden's emails were part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

"We are being told by two people who've been briefed on what the FBI is doing that they're looking into whether these unverified e-mails about Hunter Biden that were published earlier this week by the New York Post about his business dealings in Ukraine and China are part of these bigger Russian disinformation efforts in the 2020 election," Marquardt said. 

Blitzer and Schiff called the laptop story a "false narrative" put out by the Kremlin as they agreed with each other’s every word. Later that day, CNN national security analyst James Clapper appeared on "OutFront with Erin Burnett" to dismiss the laptop story, and called it "classic, textbook, Soviet, Russian trade craft at work."

Nick Sandmann 

In 2020, CNN settled a multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit filed by Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann and his legal team over the network’s inaccurate coverage of a viral confrontation with a Native American elder that had portrayed the Kentucky teen as an aggressor. 

The $250 million defamation suit—which was settled for an undisclosed amount—sought damages for the "emotional distress Nicholas and his family suffered" in the fallout of the CNN’s reporting. 

Sandmann was swept up in a controversy after a video clip depicted the "MAGA" hat-wearing student smiling at Nathan Phillips beating a drum and singing a chant as he was surrounded by Sandmann's peers, who all had joined in on the chant in front of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 

CNN portrayed the incident with Sandmann as being racially charged before additional footage proved that a group of Black Hebrew Israelites had provoked the confrontation by slinging racial slurs at the students. Footage then showed Phillips, who was in town for the Indigenous Peoples March, approaching the students amid the rising tension between the two groups. 

Misrepresenting Ivermectin and Joe Rogan 

A variety of CNN pundits and hosts accused podcasting giant Joe Rogan of taking "horse dewormer" last year after he announced he was taking Ivermectin, prescribed to him by a doctor, among other treatments after testing positive for coronavirus.   

The comments were so plentiful that a peeved Rogan eventually forced CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta to admit his colleagues were wrong to describe his use of Ivermectin as purely a livestock drug during a contentious interview. 

Rogan accused CNN of "lying" about Ivermectin being horse medication and said Brian Stelter appeared "gleeful" that he was able to paint him as some sort of lunatic. 

Joe Rogan

Joe Rogan during the UFC 247 ceremonial weigh-in at Toyota Center on Feb. 7, 2020, in Houston, Texas. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

"That bothered you," Gupta said, grinning.  

"It should bother you too," Rogan shot back. "They're lying at your network about people taking human drugs versus drugs for veterinary." 

"Calling it a ‘horse dewormer’ is not the most flattering thing, I get that," Gupta conceded.  

"It's a lie," Rogan pushed back. "It's a lie on a news network … and it's a lie that they're conscious of. It's not a mistake. They're unfavorably framing it as veterinary medicine." 


Rogan pointed to the "snarky" statement released by the FDA saying, "You are not a horse. You are not a cow," in order to encourage people to not take Ivermectin and also referenced multiple CNN hosts, including Brian Stelter and Anderson Cooper, who portrayed the drug as medicine for "livestock" and "horses," rather than a multifaceted drug for both human and animal ailments. 

"Why would they lie and say that's horse dewormer?" Rogan asked. "I can afford people medicine, motherf---er. It's ridiculous! It's just a lie! Don't you think that a lie like that is dangerous on a news network when you know that they know they're lying? … Do you think that that's a problem that your news network lies?" 

Rogan pressed Gupta, ""Does it bother you that the network you work for out and out lied, just outright lied about me taking horse dewormer?" 

Gupta eventually admitted CNN’s coverage was misleading.  

Even after being called out for peddling misinformation, CNN remained defiant, claiming in a statement, "The only thing CNN did wrong here was bruise the ego of a popular podcaster who pushed dangerous conspiracy theories and risked the lives of millions of people in doing so." 

Although Ivermectin is not proven to effectively treat COVID-19, it is a drug that has frequently been prescribed to humans by doctors. 

Jussie Smollett 

CNN helped promote Jussie Smollett’s since-discredited 2019 claim that he was attacked by two MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporters at 2 a.m. during the polar vortex in Chicago.  

CNN was all in with Smollett’s side of the tale, putting an emphasis on support he received from "Hollywood A-listers" and "political heavyweights," such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  

"The circumstances are just horrific," anchor Jim Sciutto said on the day after the alleged attack.  

A few days later, a guest on CNN’s "State of the Union" declared Smollett was "viciously beaten, and we know it was a hate crime."  

CNN host Don Lemon told his viewers at the time that the story was "personal" since he and Smollett had been acquaintances and were in constant communication since the alleged incident.  

Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building to hear the verdict in his trial on Dec. 9, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building to hear the verdict in his trial on Dec. 9, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)


Smollett even testified that Lemon corresponded with him during the early parts of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) investigation into the incident. The disgraced actor said he received a text from Lemon, supposedly relaying information that the CPD didn’t believe Smollett's account of what happened. 

In March 2019, after the initial false police report charge against Smollett was dropped but after it had become clear his hate crime story had fallen apart, Stelter said that the situation was "confusing" and that "we may never really know what happened on the street that night in Chicago."

After Smollett was found guilty on five of the six charges against him stemming from the hate crime hoax in late 2021, plastered on CNN's website was the softened headline, "Jussie Smollett guilty on some charges." Many mocked the inclusion of the word "some."